News Minute: Here is the latest New Mexico news from The Associa - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

News Minute: Here is the latest New Mexico news from The Associated Press at 11:40 a.m. MDT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State Police say a veteran officer has died after suffering a medical incident while on duty. They say Sgt. Thomas Vitale died Saturday. State Police didn't immediately disclose details of the medical incident. They say Vitale was an Army veteran and served 18 years in the police department and was assigned to District 12 in Deming. He's survived by his wife and three children. State Police say funeral plans for Vitale are pending.

DEMING, N.M. (AP) - A historic Hispanic church in southern New Mexico is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Deming Headlight reports parishioners at Santa Ana Catholic Church in Deming are preparing for a monthlong festival. The centennial celebration and fiesta will begin June 3 with the Feast of Corpus Christi and conclude June 24 with a closing Mass and outdoor dance.

ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - A northern New Mexico city has paid out more than $800,000 in settlements in connection with excessive force complaints involving one police officer. KRQE-TV reports that court records show that Espanola Police Sgt. Greg Esparza has been named in seven lawsuits or tort claims involving excessive force since 2012. Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez says the complaints are concerning and changes are coming.

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) - The southern New Mexico county that includes most of White Sands National Monument opposes U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich's proposal to elevate the vast expanse of shift sand dunes to national park status. The Otero County Commission said in a May 10 letter to the Democrat lawmaker that making White Sands a park wouldn't necessarily increase visitation, that his bill is unnecessary and that significant questions about the proposal remain unanswered.

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